Nominated anonymously for a national award competition, a Midcoast dog with 500,000 followers on social media is carving a special place for himself in the community.
Marek, Knox County’s K9 patrol dog, is among multiple contestants vying for various categories of the 2021 American Hero Dog Awards, a competition reliant on community votes. Many of the contestants have overcome adversity. All have found their paths to purpose and fulfillment.
For Marek, life’s rocky start was as a puppy, having been adopted as a household pet. Some dogs, however, just aren’t born for a mild-mannered family life. Some dogs, like Marek, need to work. So, after a year of trying to accustom him to a conventional dog’s life, the family returned him to his Weld, Maine, roots. That was the turning point.
His Weld breeder, who is also a K9 trainer, saw potential in Marek as a working canine. He also knew that Tim Davis, of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, was looking for a four-legged partner.
Breeders traditionally name their litters by a letter of the alphabet. An “M” name that referenced a mythical god followed suit. The name Marek translates to Mars, God of War, in Czech, Polish and Slovak. To that reference is added “war-like.”
“I could have changed his name if I wanted to,” said Davis. “But it happens to be that I spent time in the Czech and Ukraine area before I was married.”
A warrior in training, a deputy learning to train, and a connection from the start.
In 2019, the 95-pound German Shepherd and his handler entered the world of K9 patrol and detection. Despite both of them being “green”, the two immediately rose to their purpose. Marek’s ancestral tree, after all, includes a retired patrol dog father for Franklin County, and his uncle, who now patrols for Franklin County.
Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll said he couldn’t be more proud of the work Davis and Marek have done, both individually and as a team.
Within two years, Marek has been on 260 deployments (special requests for a K9). As a patrol dog who goes wherever Davis goes, the number of cases Marek has been involved in could actually be double or triple that amount, according to Carroll.
Newly certified as a narcotics tracker in August 2020, Marek’s 225 million scent detectors (compared to human’s 5 million detectors) have uncovered cocaine, heroin, meth, and ecstasy in Knox County – a feat made coincidental in that Marek’s additional training expenses were supplemented by drug forfeiture money, according to Carroll.
As a tracking dog, he’s followed the scents of the missing, the suicidal, domestic violence assailants, and others, mostly in Knox County, but he has also been called upon in Lincoln and Waldo counties.
Marek tracks, apprehends, conducts artifact recovery (evidence), searches buildings, and protects his handler. He is not a trained search and rescue dog, Davis stresses. But he’s a dog with a desire to work, and when Davis is available for a call, so is Marek.
Generally, working dogs retire after eight to 10 years. Marek’s great-grandfather passed away soon after retiring from 15 years on the job. In the end, he was blind and deaf, yet still insisted on working since he could still use his nose.
Young and raring to go, Davis and Marek work. Always. They have monthly trainings throughout the state with a certified trainer, daily mini trains, and regular shift work.
And then, there’s DARE. Before the pandemic Davis regularly instructed Drug Abuse Resistance Education in five local schools. Marek occasionally would sit at his side, looking up at Davis as if to say, “Why are we here?” But for the children, just the sight of a dog in the classroom was enough in a welcoming way. (Alternately, people being pursued by law enforcement may give up their evasion when a police dog pops his head out of a cruiser window, according to Davis.)
When the pandemic forced the schools to close, Davis joked with students: “I’m going to put Marek in a TikTok video,” he said.
Intended to be seen by only a few people, the videos have multiplied and given way to loyal followers on TikTok and Instagram, providing pandemic isolated families with a virtual, yet familiar face; another layer to positive community reinforcement by a four-legged, people-neutral, cruiser-content, work-is-happiness, canine who’s still settling in.
Voting for The Hero Dog Awards ends May 6.
To vote for Marek, click here: https://herodogawards.org/dog/marek/
For information about the contest: https://herodogawards.org/